Posting days: Sunday and Wednesday and, sometimes, maybe, extra ‘news flashes’
Sunday September 3rd 2017
Watching dogs enjoy themselves is reward in itself, of course. And watching little Isis becoming more familiar with the landscape every time she goes to the park, pushing the boundaries of where it’s safe to run, leap and bound, is amazing.
But, as if this isn’t enough, sometimes a wildlife bonus comes along too.
This happens to me in Highbury a couple of weeks ago.
We are on our way back to the car when Isis, off-lead, wanders happily into her second favourite marshy place. She immediately disappears into the mass of tall plants. I wait at the edge. Her new bell is tinkling rhythmically, so I know exactly where she is.
Suddenly, there’s a barrage of angry chittering from the direction of a tree on the other side of the patch.
Someone isn’t pleased by our intrusion.
As I look up, what I think is a brown butterfly drops down in front of me and lodges on the stalk of a plant. I bend down to look at it.
But it isn’t a butterfly. It’s the smallest fledgling bird I’ve ever seen. Completely unphased by the fascinated stare of a tall human, it stays around for about five minute, sometimes sitting quite still for seconds at a time, sometimes hopping casually among the small leaves and stems of the plant.
It’s an exquisite little creature. I can’t take my eyes off it. I wonder if it might be a baby wren, but it’s the wrong shape. The cacophony of alarm continues. Its parent/s must be in the tree trying to drive off us off.
We move on and the chittering stops.
Thanks Isis. That’s an experience I’d never have had on my own.
The following day we’re back again.
It’s late morning and very quiet, warm but quite dull. Perfect Isis weather.
She is playing today in her preferred, larger, marshy area,
and I am sitting on a bench, facing her with my back to the pond. I will be able to hear her bell if she breaks into a trot and will see Her White Hairiness if she leaves the patch.
But she doesn’t. There must be a huge amount of information in there for a dog, all kinds of little creatures missed by careless humans.
Out in the open, the Canada Goose pair are strolling in the grass enjoying their new found leisure. Their seven young flew off a few days ago after prolonged wing fluttering exercises closely supervised by their parents.
The coot adolescents are still hanging around mum and dad, hoping for treats. The young moorhens, adolescents too, meander onto the grass if front of me. I’m a big moorhen fan. I love their chunky bodies and lime green legs. They remind me of the logo of an ancient advert for knitting wool which comprised a fat black ball of wool with two knitting pins thrust through it.
After about forty minutes, I get up, intending to check on Isis who is being suspiciously quiet.
After a few strides, I glance back at the pond and am amazed to see that a heron is now standing behind my bench. S/he obligingly strolls over to the edge of the pond.
A little girl and her mother approach to look at the heron, who continues to walk by the pond in a leisurely fashion, stopping now and again to peer intently into its depths.
Later, I tell the lady about the tiny bird I had seen the day before. She says that she and and her daughter have seen what she thought were firecrests in the pine avenue. We check out firecrests and goldcrests on her phone. Weighing only six gramms, they’re the smallest birds in Europe. When we compare the birds, she is sure that the birds she has seen are goldcrests and I think that my little bird is a goldcrest too.
Eventually, I collect dear little Isis from her patch. As usual she gives me a sniff and wags happily when I attach her to her lead.
We’ve been here in Highbury for over three hours.
Who would want to go home?
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.co.uk